New Tactics – Horror Movies, Cuss Words, and a Bold Life

I spent Thanksgiving at a friend’s house. It was a good time; even though it was his first time hosting Thanksgiving, it was obvious that he has a flair for entertaining. The meal – every part cooked from scratch – was delicious. The company was eclectic and well-balanced. There were only seven of us in total (not counting Gracie, our canine guest), so we could all jump in and out of conversation. We drank champagne, devoured a huge meal, then talked in small groups for hours. It was nice. No political conversation, no arguments, no family in-fighting. Definitely an A+ Thanksgiving.

Though I had a fabulous time just chatting with everyone about all sorts of stuff, one of the host’s friends and I found common ground in our shared love of horror movies (especially supernatural horror). Once we discovered each other’s interest, the conversation got deliciously geeky. We talked for a long time, sharing movie suggestions and finally dragging the host into watching movie trailers with us (we were the last three standing, thanks to getting sucked into movie conversation).

It was so nice to meet a new friend, but more than that, it was a total rush to remember this thing that I’m passionate about. I’ve been feeling lost, like I can’t communicate myself to anyone, including me. I’m just starting to try to sort through the jumble of facts and fictions in which I’ve wrapped myself, to figure out what it is that I am, what I love, where I’m going to go with all of that information. So to get SUPER EXCITED about discussing horror movies was total joy. I know, I know, it’s small to you, maybe. But for me, it gives me hope.

I have a thing that I love (a few things, actually – I can now confidently say that I love hiking, the Camino, WWII history, medieval religious architecture, St. Francis, NC BBQ, and supernatural horror movies). And I know people who like each of these things. I have friends who love the outdoors, and Camino buddies, and even a friend from the Camino who is also a WWII history buff. So logically, I understand that my interests are not held within a bubble. My interests are not special, exactly. But you can love these things, and when you never talk about them, you forget that they touch your heart, they open your mind, they bring you a passionate connection to the world.

So in meeting a person who deeply appreciated something that I also deeply appreciate,  it’s been reiterated to me that my interests are valid. And even more special, my new friend likes this movie genre for the same specific reason, in the same way, that I do. You know, you meet people all the time who like horror movies because they love blood, or like monsters, or get some weird joy out of seeing bad things happen to people in a make-believe setting. But that’s not why I like horror films; in fact, most blood and guts type movies disgust me (unless the “bad guy” is a witch, in which case I normally root for her, no matter how gruesome it gets, understanding that the story is being told from a skewed P.O.V., and she has every right to protect herself from the bullshit religious right patriarchy, lol). But in general, I watch supernatural horror because I like thinking about the unseen, and how close we are to touching it, and how often we’re a part of it without knowing. It was really cool to meet someone who understands that, and geeks out about it in the same way. It gives me hope for my future.

All this being said, it’s time for me to focus my energy on that hope, on firing up my passion, becoming more confident in being myself, knowing who that “self” is, discontinuing my need to seek permission to be joyous and geeky and fired up over the simple things (and the complex ones). I’m going to take a step away from Compass & Quill for awhile, while I build my message over on my new blog.

NOTE TO MY RELATIVES: Before you click that link above, if you’re related to me and don’t like cuss (curse) words, just do yourself a favor and don’t bother. I will be cussing. You won’t like it. And honestly, I don’t intend on entertaining a conversation with you about watching my language at 36. I’m not going to, the end, get used to the fact that I’m a decent human being, you’ve done the best you can, and it’s time to move on and stop nitpicking. I’m having a difficult enough time with my life without having to deal with making you happy 100% of the time. It’s your job to make you happy, and when you let me make you unhappy over something miniscule and pointless, it’s not my fault, it’s yours for blowing things out of proportion.

The #1 problem in my life right now is that I’ve always shifted my life around to make everyone around me happy, and in the process, I lost the ability to see the difference between making you all happy and making ME happy. And EVERY SINGLE DECISION ends up being a source of inner conflict, as I worry about what every person I’ve ever known and loved might think of me when I make it. I mean, seriously, I get caught up and confused when buying dish soap, in case one of my friends might come over and be upset with me for using an unpleasant scent (and I don’t ever have houseguests). Let’s not even get into choosing throw pillows, or new shoes, or picking up a hobby, or trying to have a normal conversation at a coffee shop. This goes to say that I have a major problem with letting what I think you all want dictate the way I run my life, when you’re not even present. That’s entirely my fault, not yours, and I’m going to eliminate it this year. My first step is being painfully honest about the ways that I let people hurt me, and have power over me, without even knowing it. So let’s just cut the bullshit, and you can stop agonizing that my use of cuss words will make me white trash, while I stop agonizing that my use of cuss words will make you not love me anymore. Capice?

Music Monday: The Imperial March, by John Williams

I’m not sure if I watched the original trilogy in the correct order, but I tend to doubt it. I know that I fell in love with Luke in Return of the Jedi the second he glided up to Jabba’s palace in his mysterious robes and mind-tricked his way in with the tiniest of efforts. My dad taped Return for me off of TV, and I still remember the fateful day I finally wore that VHS out, after a good three or four years of weekly viewings. By that time, I’d watched all three movies multiple times. I’d grown a bit, and was obsessed with bits and pieces from all over the trilogy: Salacious Crumb’s beady little eyes and wrinkled snout, R2’s general badassery, Leia’s gold bikini, the rawness in Luke’s voice as he screams to shut down on the trash compactors on the detention level, the subtle comedy in Chewbacca’s resignation at Han’s churlish behavior, C3PO’s arms getting ripped off at every occasion, Han’s devotion to his friends (even when money and common sense are trying to talk him out of it), Yoda’s gentle wisdom and tiny house, that last precious moment where Anakin Skywalker’s helmet comes off to reveal the sad, sweet face of a man who threw his life away on the Dark Side.

The original trilogy molded me in some ways. I came to expect a certain amount of bravery from the men in my life, but like Leia, even more from myself. I learned that if I listened and sat still long enough, I could feel the Force, too. And I learned to use Star Wars as my ruler – if you liked it, you’d probably be worth getting to know, and if you didn’t, well…

Minimalist Star Wars poster by Drew Roberts. Click through to purchase on Etsy.

Minimalist Star Wars poster by Drew Roberts. Click through to purchase on Etsy.

Also, like Luke, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and I hated it. Star Wars probably had a heavy hand in giving me the travel bug. I’ve honestly never dreamed of exploring new planets (short of nightmares of being sucked out into space), but I’ve definitely felt the pull to see all of this weird world, which can be quite alien enough, thanks. I remember having a Star Wars movie magic book when I was 8 or 9. It talked about makeup and costuming, and how the sets were made, and that was the first time that I really took the time to contemplate that they’d filmed the Tatooine scenes in a very real place on Earth – Tunisia. I’ve always wanted to see what’s left of that set; maybe one day.

But this post isn’t about how much I love the original trilogy (notice how I’m being really nice and not saying anything about how much the prequels suck the joy out of life?). It’s about how much I respect John Williams’ score. Particularly “The Imperial March”, which manages to contain what some might argue is the very essence of the trilogy in a 3 minute song. “The Imperial March”, as most of you know, is Darth Vader’s theme. It is the aural equivalent of everything Darth Vader’s physical presence hints at – darkness, violence, the unquestionable need for absolute obedience (and obeisance).

From now on, the song will also represent something else to me, something a tad bit less dark. Each year in March, my friends Angie and Glenn gather friends together to watch the original trilogy on VHS (the original releases, prior to Lucas’ sacrilegious little “fixes” like making Greedo shoot first). They call it the Imperial March party. Everyone wears homemade Star Wars-themed outfits (the rules are that it must cost $10 or less, so there’s lots of tin foil and duct tape involved), and all of the snacks are named after characters or places in the trilogy. It’s a ton of fun, and last year’s party was the first time I got to meet my boyfriend’s friends. This year’s party was even more special, though, because this year Angie and Glenn got engaged. I managed to take a couple of snapshots while Glenn was proposing to Angie (dressed as a very dashing Lando).

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Music Monday: The Birdman’s Cacophonous Legacy

I never watch the industry award shows. Can’t remember the last time I caught the Grammys, Oscars, Emmys, etc.; guessing it was sometime in the late 1990s. In general, I think the ceremonies are a load of self-congratulatory, time-wasting bullshit, while the award process is subjective, at best. It’s a big popularity contest for people who tend to already be popular enough, thanks.

That’s why when I woke up this morning and saw that Birdman had won four Oscars, I was quite surprised to find I was excited. I watched the movie on Friday night, and loved it – especially the bizarre, jarring soundtrack composed of mostly jazz drumming. As I scanned through the list of Oscar winners, I found myself rooting for the Birdman soundtrack (created by Grammy-award winning jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez) to have scooped up one of those stupid little gold men. Sadly, it was not to be.

In fact, as it turns out, the Oscars disqualified Sanchez’s score for Birdman for understated sampling of other people’s music. Despite the fact that the drumming completely dominates the score, rendering the samples nearly invisible, this was enough to get the score thrown out of the competition. Luckily, it’s still up for a Golden Globe, so 2015 might be the year that I genuinely care about two award ceremonies – imagine that!

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, the soundtrack is, well, different. You can read all about it online, or give it a listen here, but if I were you, I’d hold off until you’ve seen the film and can understand the music’s extreme importance to the pacing and subject matter of the film. But don’t listen to me. After all, a thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.